Connect with us
BMW

Black Lives

State Rep. Daisy Morales Promotes World Vitiligo Day in Florida

Published

on

Florida State Representative Daisy Morales (center) hosts her 2021 World Vitiligo Day Celebration at Orlando City Hall, Friday, June 25, 2021. (Photo by Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – State Rep. Daisy Morales’s inaugural World Vitiligo Day celebration at Orlando City Hall Friday embodied the word poignant. From the three governmental proclamations and Rep. Morales’s Florida House of Representatives Resolution 8053 to the strong, brave vitiligo activists sharing their personal stories, the audience was quiet, eagerly absorbing every word.

And who wouldn’t be? Friday’s speakers disclosed that vitiligo’s effects aren’t limited to just odd pigment patterns on the skin. Pigmentation doubles as protection, so vitiligo patients are far more vulnerable to sunlight than those with normal skin.

The cultural consequences go even deeper. People with healthy skin suffer prejudice, so imagine the mental and emotional anguish that comes with odd or incomplete pigmentation. Vitiligo patients endure bullying, being seen as contagious, or being seen as cursed. Some are reluctant to venture out into the world due to those wrong assumptions.

State Representative Daisy Morales's welcome sign for her inaugural World Vitiligo Day event at Orlando City Hall in downtown Orlando Friday, June 25, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

The Voices of Vitiligo

Tonja (pronounced TAHN-juh) Johnson, founder of Beautifully Unblemished, a statewide vitiligo support group, Central Florida Jobs with Justice co-director Denise Diaz, and world renowned Instagram influencer and Central Florida resident Ash Soto shared stories of how their vitiligo began and progressed across their bodies, challenging their very identities. This was especially true for Johnson, who for many years was teased for her dark skin. After developing vitiligo in 2013, roughly 85 percent of her body has now lost its pigmentation. “I lost the skin color I’d struggled to embrace,” she shared Friday.

Rep. Morales revealed a little-known detail about vitiligo when sharing her story. When the condition first began to appear on her body–especially on her hands–the depigmentation would appear in massive flare-ups, then disappear, and eventually re-appear. Fellow vitiligo activist Kresha Garrett, who has localized vitiligo on the right side of her face, says she experienced the same thing.

Filmmaker, active duty U.S. Navy sailor and confidence coach Li’dya C. Moore brought yet another little-known detail about vitiligo: one can have it from birth. “I didn’t get it at ten or twenty-four…I was born this way,” she said.

Dallas (right), a five-year-old diagnosed with vitiligo a year prior, offered encouraging words for others who also have the disease. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Dallas (right), a five-year-old diagnosed with vitiligo a year prior, offered encouraging words for others who also have the disease. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Near the end of the night, five-year-old Dallas, who is dark-skinned and was diagnosed with vitiligo at four, spoke the most powerful words of any vitiligo activist in the room. “Don’t say what the bullies say…or what they say you aren’t,” she urged. “You’re all beautiful, and everyone with vitiligo will always be beautiful.” The entire room erupted in applause with a collective “awwwwww.”

Orlando District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz (left) read Governor Ron DeSantis's proclamation recognizing June 25, 2021 as World Vitiligo Day and June 2021 as Vitiligo Month in the state of Florida during State Rep. Daisy Morales's (right) inaugural World Vitiligo Day event at Orlando City Hall Friday, June 25, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Orlando District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz (left) read Governor Ron DeSantis’s proclamation recognizing June 25, 2021 as World Vitiligo Day and June 2021 as Vitiligo Month in the state of Florida during State Rep. Daisy Morales’s (right) inaugural World Vitiligo Day event at Orlando City Hall Friday, June 25, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Vitiligo Supporters

Elected officials and community leaders from all over central Florida attended to learn more about vitiligo, the “forgotten” disease, as it is known in some circles. Orlando District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz read Governor Ron DeSantis’s proclamation, recognizing June as Vitiligo Awareness Month in the state of Florida as well as recognizing June 25th as World Vitiligo Day. City of Orlando Multicultural Engagement and International Affairs Deputy Manager Luis Martinez read Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s proclamation recognizing June 25, 2021 as Florida Vitiligo Awareness Day. Though he wasn’t present to read it, Rep. Morales also received a proclamation from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings recognizing June 25, 2021 as Florida Vitiligo Awareness Day.

Other guests included Department of Health – Orange County director Dr. Raul Pino; Edmarie Rodriguez, who made history in 2020 as NASA’s first-ever Puerto Rican medical assistant; Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Central Florida chapter president Andrew Jeng; and many others.

Beautifully Unblemished founder Tonja Johnson shared her personal journey with vitiligo during State Rep. Daisy Morales's inaugural World Vitiligo Day event at Orlando City Hall Friday, June 25, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Beautifully Unblemished founder Tonja Johnson shared her personal journey with vitiligo during State Rep. Daisy Morales’s inaugural World Vitiligo Day event at Orlando City Hall Friday, June 25, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

The Impact

“This was a great event,” Soto told FNN News in an interview. “[Getting to] share my story and hearing everyone else’s stories…I learned so much myself.”

“I am so overwhelmed,” Johnson gushed to FNN News at the end of the night. “It’s important to be that voice for vitiligo for those who are voiceless…I’m so grateful for everyone who came.”

In her closing remarks, Rep. Morales assured the vitiligo community (both the people present in the room and watching online) that they’re not alone anymore. “Now you have a friend in Tallahassee that will make sure these issues are brought to the table.”

 

Proclamations and House Resolution 8053 for 2021 World Vitiligo Day

  • Governor Ron DeSantis’s World Vitiligo Day and Vitiligo Month Proclamation

  • Florida State Representative Daisy Morales’s House Resolution 8051

  • Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings’s Proclamation

  • Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Proclamation

2021 World Vitiligo Day Event Photos (67) on Florida National News’ Facebook Page

State Representative Daisy Morales (right) presents Beautifully Unblemished founder Tonja Johnson with a certificate of appreciation at the close of her inaugural World Vitiligo Day event at Orlando City Hall Friday, June 25, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

State Representative Daisy Morales (right) presents Beautifully Unblemished founder Tonja Johnson with a certificate of appreciation at the close of her inaugural World Vitiligo Day event at Orlando City Hall Friday, June 25, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

__________________________________________

Mellissa Thomas is editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

Black Lives

Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell Announces Leadership Team

Published

on

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) today announced the appointment of the following Democratic Representatives to serve on the House Democratic Caucus leadership team for the 2022-24 legislative term:

  • Leader Pro Tempore: Representative Dotie Joseph (D-Miami);
  • Policy Chair: Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton);
  • Floor Leader: Representative Michael “Mike” Gottlieb (D-Davie); and
  • Whip: Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland).

“The House Democratic Caucus is made up of some of the strongest, most fierce champions of the people in the entire state,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “It is an honor and great pleasure to work with these individuals in this new capacity, and all of them are prepared to lead the Caucus in the face of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

As Leader Pro Tempore, Representative Joseph will assist the Democratic Leader in carrying out designated responsibilities and perform such Leadership responsibilities as are assigned, including stepping in for the Leader as needed.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Representative Joseph for over 20 years. From the time we were at Georgetown Law to now, she has always been a consistent champion for justice. The issues she advocates for on behalf of all Floridians makes Representative Joseph an invaluable asset in defending Floridians against extremist Republican policies,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “I look forward to Representative Joseph’s leadership as a key member of my team over the next two years.”

In her role as the Caucus Policy Chair, Representative Skidmore will be responsible for ensuring the Caucus continues to champion legislation that positively impacts all Floridians, and will lead discussions about bills before the House at Caucus meetings.

“As the previous Policy Chair for the Caucus, I know what is needed to do this job. Appointing Representative Skidmore as Policy Chair was an easy choice,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “She stood out as a prime member in understanding policy during the last legislative term. Representative Skidmore also brings with her a wealth of experience as both a former House and Senate staffer and House member. Applying her unique skillset to this new role will benefit the Caucus and all Floridians.”

In his role as Floor Leader, Representative Gottlieb will be responsible in interpreting the House Rules, ensuring the Caucus adheres to the agreed upon rules, and working with his Republican counterpart in advocating for fair amounts of time be allotted to the Caucus in debating different pieces of legislation.

“Two things I greatly appreciate about Representative Gottlieb are his refreshing candor and strong fortitude,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “As the minority party in the Legislature, we’re aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. What we need right now is someone who is unwavering under extreme pressure to help guide our Caucus during difficult moments. Representative Gottlieb is perfectly suited for this role.”

As Whip, Representative Hunschofsky will be responsible for keeping all Democratic Caucus members apprised of Caucus policy on any bills or issues before the House.

Representative Hunschofsky has an amazing ability to get things done,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “Not only does Representative Hunschofsky possess a wealth of knowledge due to her experience as the former mayor of Parkland, Florida, she is also a champion of many initiatives close to Floridians’ hearts, such as expanding access to quality mental health care. I know Representative Hunschofsky’s knowledge and ability will help prepare our Caucus for the challenges of the next two year.”

The Florida House Democratic Caucus will convene during Organizational Session taking place Nov. 21-22, 2022 in advance of the 2023 Legislative Session scheduled to begin on March 7, 2023.

Continue Reading

Black Lives

VIDEO: State Rep. Dianne Hart elected chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus

Published

on

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Dianne Hart (D-Tampa), incoming Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, talks briefly with Florida National News on the importance of the Florida Blue Florida Classic at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Saturday. The Florida Classic is an annual college football rivalry game between Bethune–Cookman University and Florida A&M University.

Hart’s Twitter Statement:

Hart’s statement: “I’m honored to have been elected as the Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus.” “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and for trusting me to move this important caucus forward.”

During the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, Rep. Hart served on the following House committees, including Democratic Ranking Member of the Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee, Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight, Ways & Means Committee, Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee and Select Subcommittee on Authorized Gaming Activity.

Hart was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. She is also the CEO of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association.

 

Continue Reading

Black Lives

Former State Rep. Bruce Antone Ready To Rejoin Florida House

Published

on

Former State Representative Bruce Antone respond to questions by CFABJ, NAACP, and the Florida Voters League panel during a candidates forum in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Former Florida State Representative Bruce Antone served 12 years (six terms) in the Florida House of Representatives and defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy during the August primary election to represent Orange County in the newly draw District 41 House seat.

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

Antone was among eleven candidates seeking election to county, state and Congressional seats participating in a candidate forum hosted by CFABJ, NAACP and the Florida Voters League, Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

Green Party nominee Robin Denise Harris is the only potential road block in Antone’s return to Tallahassee and faces off with him in the November general election. The District 41 House seat has an overwhelmingly Democratic voter base.

During his time in the Florida House, Antone was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the 29-member Florida Legislative Black Caucus.

The general election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

Continue Reading

Trending